Open enrollment for health care coverage starts Nov. 1; What every Tennessean needs to know

(AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr)
(AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr)

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – We’re just a few days away from open enrollment health insurance. Beginning November 1  to January 31, folks in Tennessee will have the opportunity to enroll for affordable health coverage.

The Get Covered Tenn Coalition is offering free assistance for those who need help signing up.

A statewide hotline and website website has been established for consumers to book appointments for face-to-face help. Just go to http://www.getcoveredtenn.org and or call 844-644-5443 for more details.

According to the Get Covered Tenn Coalition, more than 269,000 Tennesseans were enrolled in health coverage through the marketplace.

Here are five things every Tennessean needs to know about the upcoming open enrollment period (From Get Covered Tenn Coalition):

1. Open enrollment begins on November 1.
Thousands of Tennesseans have enrolled in coverage through the Affordable Care Act and on November 1, the Marketplace will reopen until January 31. During this time, uninsured Tennesseans will be able to enter the Health Insurance Marketplace and select a plan that fits their needs and budget. Tennesseans who currently have coverage through the Marketplace will also have an opportunity to shop the new options available and find the best plan for them. If consumers don’t have health insurance or need to renew their plan, November 1 is their chance to find a plan they can afford.

2. More than four in five Tennesseans got financial help 
For many, affordability is a real concern in their health care decision-making. In the past, high premium costs have forced many to go without health insurance simply because they couldn’t afford it. The good news is that financial assistance is available to help consumers pay for their plan – making it truly affordable. In fact, 85% of Tennesseans received financial assistance to make their plan more affordable, and the average person who received financial assistance paid $104 per month for their coverage. Consumers can check out the Get Covered Calculator tool to find out what type of financial assistance they may be eligible for at http://www.getcoveredamerica.org/calculator.

3.In-person help is available to help Tennesseans understand their options and enroll in a plan.
The enrollment process can be confusing for many, especially if an individual has been without coverage for some time. Luckily, there is free, in-person enrollment help available right here in their community. These are unbiased experts from the communities they serve who are federally certified and state registered to sit down with Tennesseans to explain coverage options so consumers can make the best choices for themselves and their families. They can also help with plan renewal for those who are already insured through the Affordable Care Act and want to keep or switch their coverage. Consumers can find a nearby in-person assistor by calling Get Covered Tennessee at 844-644-5443 or can book an appointment online at http://www.getcoveredtenn.org.

4. Plans available in your area may have changed, and now plan options can be easily compared.
There have been some big changes for people currently on Blue Cross Blue Shield or United Healthcare plans and many may need to switch carriers. Additionally, everybody’s needs and financial situations are different, and choosing a plan can be intimidating. That’s why Get Covered America offers the Get Covered Plan Explorer, a free web-based plan comparison tool that can provide Tennesseans with up-to-date and easy to understand information on health coverage options. By answering a few simple questions about one’s household, the Plan Explorer generates a list of available plans that meet the needs of the consumer– including the plans that cover their doctors and prescriptions. The tool also takes into account the monthly premium and estimated out-of-pocket costs, so those shopping will have a good idea of what they will pay throughout the year. Using side-by-side comparisons, consumers can be confident that they are choosing the plan that best fits their needs and budget. Consumers can use the Get Covered Plan Explorer at http://www.getcoveredtenn.org/explore-plans

5. Consumers may face a fine come tax time if they remain uninsured.
This enrollment period is an opportunity for Tennesseans to not only gain access to quality affordable healthcare, but to also avoid paying a fine when it is time to file taxes. If individuals do not enroll in a plan by the deadline of January 31, they could face a fine of $695 or 2.5% of your yearly income, whichever is greater. Thanks to the financial help that is available, many consumers will find purchasing coverage more affordable than paying the fine for not having insurance as well as paying for health services without coverage during the year. By contrast, purchasing an affordable plan provides families with free preventative care, prescription drug coverage, and other essentials for a healthy life. November 1 marks an exciting opportunity for Tennesseans who need to find or renew their health insurance. With these five simple facts, consumers can prepare for open enrollment and take action to protect themselves and their families with quality, affordable health coverage.

To learn more about the Affordable Care Act, health coverage options, and how Tennesseans can help their friends and family get covered, go to http://www.getcoveredamerica.org.

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